I often read about designers who cannot stand freelancing yet continue to use this path for solid income. I suppose there is nothing wrong with hating your job, but some designers actually enjoy freelancing. It is not a career choice that many people would keep for decades. But it does offer a unique lifestyle of working on various projects and studying new trends.
In this article I want to present a few ideas arguing the benefits of working on freelance projects. Both designers and developers creating websites have the opportunity to earn real livable money without answering to one specific bossman. Over time you will grow interested in your own projects or other companies and likely move away from the freelance work. But lessons learned throughout various projects will stick with you for a lifetime.
Whatever field you are working will likely require going into areas you are not yet familiar with. Thus by just accepting new projects you are likely to force yourself into areas of new education. But I do not look at this as a bad thing and neither should anyone else. In fact, it can be very stimulating to increase your own knowledge on a specific subject.
Especially if that subject is directly related to the work you do. Such as building newer CSS3 properties, or learning the inner workings of WordPress PHP functions. Nobody is an expert in everything but start out in grey areas where you already know some stuff, but just need to fill in a couple blanks. You'll boost confidence and within a couple months be holding a set of new interesting skills.
It is worth passing over certain projects you think are just too much. And it is ultimately up to you whether or not taking on a new project is worth the stress. Learning about an entirely new CMS might be too much unless you have the time for study and research. It would depend if you have other work lined up, and how badly you need the money. As with most things in freelancing you have to learn balance from within yourself and not rely on the authority of others.
Time for Free-Thinking
When working as a freelancer your schedule is often up in the air. Unless you have a rigorous schedule, most work will be completed as-needed. You may find yourself swamped one month and dry on work the next. I feel that working freelance is the best time for a creative designer/developer to think introspectively on their own goals.
What would you ultimately like to do for money? Is it something related to the current skill you provide freelancing, or something else altogether? Would you want to be your own boss, or work with some other talented people? Very few people will sit down and ask themselves these tough questions before jumping into a career path. It is worth contemplation and freelancing is often the best time for it!
Expanding your Scope
When you become adjusted to working on the same ideas then it doesn't provide much room for growth. By working as a freelancer you are opening yourself up to a large number of opportunities. And this does not just include learning new skills or ideas on projects.
It also includes who you meet and work with over these individual projects. Meeting the right people in the right industry may get you a foot in the door. Plus as more people can recognize your talent it will build more credibility around what you do. It is so much easier gaining recommendation from past clients after they have seen what you can do and love your work.
The scope of what you need to accomplish should always be expanding until you are content with your works. This is the exact reason you should not be afraid to break outside the norm. You will feel more in control of what you do and the value that you can offer society. When first getting started it can be extremely stressful and it may bring you down at times. But after years of practice it definitely builds character and skills which you can be very proud of mastering.
Open Yourself to Experience
Most of the freelancers I have talked with or read about are working on projects to earn money while they work on their own side-project(s) in spare time. Generally this can be some new company or startup idea related to tech/Internet trends. But it could also be a new business idea entirely separate from the Internet! This modern age provides a brilliant resolution for creative spirits to work on their own creative endeavors while still paying the bills.
This is potentially the largest benefit you can gain out of working freelance. Insight towards what you want to build, or what you want to make or create for the world. You will definitely meet a wide variety of interesting people along the way. Take these lessons to heart and keep doing what is true to yourself.
I also suggest getting in contact with people you find who are in a similar situation with similar ideas. The other interesting learning experience of working freelance is by working in a team of creative people. You'll have the ability to ask questions and work directly with other like-minded individuals. Even building something together in your spare time is more than exciting enough for pushing beyond what you already know.
Performing any type of freelance service which includes writing or marketing will usually require a busy time schedule. When you are doing everything yourself it can be tough getting into "work mode" without going into an office space. And even in this instance you have to keep yourself motivated while pushing through the workday.
I hope these ideas strike a chord with some freelancers out there. I recognize it can be very difficult handling clients or companies who want to steamroll the creative process. But everything is a learning experience and you should not be afraid to push boundaries. Working in unknown areas is both stressful and rewarding as an educational tool. If you have additional questions or comments feel free to share with us in the post discussion area below.
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